Yesterday I completed my first half marathon. I finished in 2:23:55, or in 8,573rd (out of 10,506) place, to be technical. I was aiming to come in under 2:30, but in reality the real time I wanted to come in at was 0:10:00, secretly discovering at the start of the race that I was the Flash, and that all it took was the right conditions to bring out my secret super power. But, alas. I suppose this 'mortal feat' was worthy of noting.
Having achieved this personal physical milestone, and in the previous year reaching a new creative benchmark in writing a one man show, I've decided to look now to my career. The next thing I'd like to do is find myself not another "job" - something I've pretty much spent 40 hours a week going through the motions with since college - but a genuine "this is what I was meant to do, now pay me generously for it" career.
Here's the problem though - I don't know what the hell I want to do for a living. No, I shouldn't say that. It's clear what I want to do - something easy that pays a whole lot and doesn't take a tremendous amount of time*. But that's the part of me that assumes I'll hate whatever I have to do for a living. Which describes the vast majority of people's careers. In reality, I just can't think of something I'm convinced I'm good enough at that A) people are willing to pay me (generously) to do and B) I'm actually willing to spend a lot of time doing without eventually growing to hate it*.
When I'm daydreaming in the shower, or in my commute to work, I have the strangest fantasies of how I'd like to make money. They're not worthy of calling them hair-brained schemes or worthwhile goals - they're a different beast entirely.
This past week I fantasized about gaining the power to heal people. Just with my hands - I touch them and any illness they might have goes away instantly. I quickly realized that this would be a dangerous power - people would quickly seek to control me, study me, maybe even kill me, seeing my powers as those of a god. So, what I'd have to do is only let on that I can cure something minor, something innocuous. Specifically, male pattern baldness. This way, you see, people, men in their early to mid forties mostly I imagine, would line up in droves to help me cure them, (and in this fantasy I'm located in a small house at the top of a mountain in the furthest, most remote area of say, upstate N.Y.) and obviously pay good money. I would even consider letting it be known that I could not actually cure myself of baldness, as sort of an ironic twist on my cover story.
Then, once the sun went down (my "baldness curing clinic" would keep strict hours, from about 10-4 with an hour lunch), I would travel in cover of night, healing those who were truly in need - working with top scientists, a select few who I trust with my secret to cure the worst diseases in the world. And with those that I love, anyone who I would want to tell but I couldn't trust with my secret, I would simply cure them without them knowing, while they are asleep, or maybe just drunk. And that would be my awesome life/career/FUCKING COMIC BOOK LIFE I JUST SPENT AN ENTIRE MORNING INVENTING!!!
It's tragic, and at the same time hilarious to me that every career, real or fantasy, that I've ever pined for - from celebrity actor/writer to lead game designer to Superman doing construction (easiest gig on the planet, but oh would those unions hate me) involves me getting something without doing any of the work involved for it. I don't want to start off being a starving actor/artist, I can't stand (or more specifically, understand, given my grades in computer science in college) any of the minutiae involved with actual game design/programming, and I'm just way too lazy to invest the time finding another planet whose sun will give me superhuman powers.
With the race and with my show, and pretty much everything else I've ever theoretically put my mind to, I've had a road map to my goal. Run, run, run, write, write, write, beg, beg, beg. And sure, there's things out there like grad school to consider - but when you don't really know where you want to end up, it's not really a viable option to invest that kind of time or money.
I think the best advice I've ever heard is to keep doing what I love doing and hopefully one day I'll figure it out. Problem is, it's a chicken and egg situation - to do what I really love doing (read: sleeping until noon, followed by hours or doing nothing of any real societal value) requires me to have a lot of money in the first place.
Maybe I'll just win the lottery*. Man, that would be awesome.
-Matt "Half-Marathon" Shafeek
Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: As a Bionic Commando!
*Again, see: Gigalo.
*And now I will fantasize about this in lieu of any real thoughts on career options.